Devotional article for The Greybull Standard

and The Republican Rustler

An Alternative to the Faith – and the Alternative of Faith

It seems that a certain segment of American Christianity lives on steady stream of watersheds, tossed to and fro, by choice, from one fad to another. Every once in a while a new book or concept or method becomes what everything is all about, and new insights will change the way we see everything forever – until a new book or concept or method comes along and becomes fashionable, and it is suddenly forgotten that the previous fad has changed everything forever.

About a decade ago, the fashion of the day was a book called “The Shack”. Now it has been made into a movie. It remains to be seen if the movie will have much impact on how Christians understand themselves and the faith.

There is reason for concern, though, if it does; for what “The Shack” teaches is not the Christian faith!

It addresses issues of suffering and evil and the compassion of God. After the main character is struck by tragedy, he meats God in a shack. This “God” is three persons, who are one, but not as the Christian faith teaches it; for one thing, it is indicated that they were all crucified!

God the Father is in “The Shack” portrayed as a woman. One wonders why. But perhaps one does not have to; the effeminate image of God so common to modern spirituality goes well with the main message of “The Shack”, which is the dismissal of objective truth and “religion” - and even being Christian - all in favour of the idea of some sort of intimate relationship with the “God” of “The Shack“. The most essential truth of the Christian faith is rejected outright: that the Son of God loved us sinners so as to suffer for us the righteous and necessary judgement of God against evil and ungodliness!

From what I have read, the author's intention with “The Shack” was to present an alternative to the Christian tradition in which he grew up. In his opinion it was lacking in compassion. And it may very well have been. Some Christian traditions and environments are, and one can hardly blame the victims of such traditions and environments for seeking alternatives. It is sad, though, when they seek their redemption, not in what Holy Scripture actually teaches, but rather in the creation of a different religion.

The best response to misunderstood Christianity is not for Christians to seek an alternative to the Christian faith; rather, it is to rediscover that which is the heart of authentic Christian faith, as taught by Holy Scripture and proclaimed, in all weakness, by the faithful Church of Christ: His love, who took it upon Himself to bear the most dreadful suffering for us: His own judgement and hatred against evil.

Pastor Jais H. Tinglund

Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem